The Nature of Social Work: An Ecocentered Analysis of Key Social Work Statements

Lia Levin, Mali Nevo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article addresses references to people's natural environments in some of the central declarative statements that shape social work worldwide. Four types of documents were analyzed, including statements associated with the Global Definition of Social Work, the Global Standards for Social Work Education and Training, the Global Social Work Statement of Ethical Principles, and the Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative. The analysis was driven by a critical-interpretive approach, seeking explicit and possibly implied references to nature and the environment across documents, with special attention to themes concerning the relationship between micro and macro perspectives, disciplinarity and inter-or transdisciplinarity, and relations between humankind and nature. In general, direct references to social work's possible intersections with issues related to nature and the natural environment were scarce in the materials examined. That having been said, our analysis did find that ecocentered interpretations enable locating prospective "bridges"for the incorporation of deeper ecological perceptions of social work into statements. Such findings constitute a call to action, and the possible implications of continuing to broadly disregard ecological aspects of social work in core materials published by influential professional institutions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-380
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • critical analysis
  • ecological social work
  • social work professional policy


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